But while your business may behave in the most socially responsible manner, how do you get the word out to potential customers?
Consumers often can't simply look at a product or a business and tell that it is socially responsible, as a Forbes contributor points out. So business owners have to be proactive in marketing themselves as socially or environmentally friendly, while making sure those marketing efforts are legal.
Here are five potential ways you can do this:
Partner with a third party. While your business may not have the most well-known name for being socially responsible, a third party that you could partner with may have such a name. For example, if you create products in a way that they don't harm animals, you may want to partner with PETA. Similarly, if you produce recycled goods, having an environmental group's name associated with yours may be a good idea. Just make sure that you have a partnership agreement in place that delineates both parties' rights and obligations.
Spread the word on social media. Everybody is tweeting about something these days, so you might as well tell the world just how socially responsible your business or product is. Don't be shy. Tweet about all the benefits of your product and post it on Facebook too. Just make sure you follow FTC rules regarding online ads.
Get certified. Many agencies and organizations offer ways to tell the world that your products meet their rigorous standards. For example, they can label your products "organic," "fair trade," or "sustainable." Of course you'll want to be careful, as many of these labels have precise legal definitions.
Give talks in your area of expertise. Don't limit yourself to social media. Get on your soapbox, make television ads, go on the radio, or even sign up to speak at small-business seminars. Tell the world about how responsible your product is.
Donate a portion of your proceeds. You can advertise your products by saying that a percentage of each sale will go to some charity or cause. This may actually pay off not only in terms of customer goodwill, but also when it comes to tax deductions; you may want to consult an experienced tax lawyer to help you figure it all out.